MLM gniniarT: Why Is It Provided Bass Ackwards?

By Len Clements © 2013

I knew in first grade that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I didn’t just set up a lemonade stand, I also offered snow cones made from my Frosty Sno-Cone Maker as well as Incredible Edibles (made from a toy that produced gummy insects – you Boomers will remember). By the age of nine I didn’t just have a paper rout, I published my own newspaper! It was called “Neighborhood News Beat”, which I’d produce using the then very expensive copy machine at my dad’s office. Although both of these ventures lasted about as long as the attention span of any single-digit-year-old, there was never any doubt that someday I’d make a living by owning my own business. Indeed, the only job I’ve ever had that required me to “clock in” was a two-month Summer gig devouring free Taco Bell food – where I was inventing most of the items now on their menu (the double shelled taco with beans in the middle? I was making those in 1975!). So, of course, it was inevitable that I’d eventually go to college and get a business degree.

Learning how to do something before you begin doing it makes sense in most endeavors, especially when it involves one’s livelihood. If you know you want to own, operate, or at least manage a business someday, you’re likely going to get a degree in business, or somehow become well educated in the type of business you wish to operate, and how to operate it. Obviously. Right?

So, why do network marketers do exactly the opposite?

In fact, this profession is the only one where you’re asked, and we unquestionably agree, to start our business first, and only then begin the process of learning how to successfully operate it. Is it any wonder why this profession has such a high first-year failure rate?

The first, if only, objection to a get-trained-first approach is that we tend to be in a hurry to make money. I get that. My degree is only an Associates Degree (in Business Data Processing – circa 1984) for essentially the same reason. After two years of watching my fellow students fight for limited computer lab time, and with Kinko’s still a gleam in some future entrepreneur’s eye, I decided to start a computer time rental and training facility. While my fellow students spent two more years learning how to run a business, I was running a business. But I did spend two years learning how first. Most MLMers don’t spend two hours (alas, even after they start their business). To be clear, I’m not talking about spending two years studying network marketing before jumping in. Successfully operating a multilevel marketing distributorship is not easy, but it is relatively simple. In fact, I’ve produced a six part training series, totaling less than six hours, that covers practically everything you’ll ever need to know to succeed in this business. It’s not rocket science.

Based on an extensive 18 year survey, conducted by my company MarketWave, Inc., of over 7,700 reps and prospects, we know that at least 86% of those who join an MLM program to earn an income have a “primary goal” of making enough to quit their job and comfortably live of their MLM residuals. That is, it’s not to get rich! They intend for their MLM venture to be, hopefully, how they earn a living, and support their family. It’s essentially a career choice. Yet, not only do most networkers not spend the requisite four years to educate themselves on their chosen career, they devote little if any time at all preparing for it. What’s more, they typically spend nary a minute learning how to select a viable, safe, legal, MLM program that best suits their personality and product interests.

Ironically, the concept of building an organization of pre-trained distributors first, and then migrating them into a specific MLM opportunity, was developed by a college business professor. Prof. David Frost heads the only fully accredited MLM degree program in the United States and, to my knowledge, the world. This program is offered by Bethany College ( Unrelated to the college itself is “The Networking Project” ( This project was co-produced by Prof. Frost and myself to fulfill the need for basic training, and to facilitate the quick and easy formation of a downline of what are essentially well qualified, and educated, prospects. Think funded proposal, with participants placed in a 2×2 structure, and no commissions. The cost of entry is a mere $9.95, one time, which not only gets you access to an online facility to build and track your team, but an audio and book library stocked with well over $100 worth of training and educational material. For example, my “Inside Network Marketing” eBook and “Case Closed: The Whole Truth About Network Marketing” audio CD, John Fogg’s “Greatest Networker in the World” and “It’s Time… For Network Marketing” eBooks, and Daren Falter’s “How to Select a Network Marketing Company”, which accounts for about $60.00 in materials already, not counting the three other audios, ten other books and reports, and the afore mentioned six part audio training series. Everything on the site is completely generic by default, but we do license the program out to anyone, within any opportunity, as an open source, fully customizable system.

Yes, learning how to build a profitable MLM business first will take some time, and delay those profits. But if it were to substantially increase those profits, and cause them to occur sooner once you’ve started, might it be worth the wait?

Think of it this way: If someone offered to pay you $1 million to swim across the Hudson River, and if you don’t make it you’ll drown, wouldn’t it make sense to delay the effort for a week or two in lieu of a few swimming lessons?

Alert #180: 6/15/2011

College to Offer Course in MLM
Accredited Marketing Degree to Emphasize Network Marketing

Bethany College was founded in 1881 and is located in Lindsborg, Kansas, right in the center of the state about 65 miles north of Wichita. It’s a 4-year, fully accredited undergraduate college with a 53-acre campus. It’s a real college offering realdegrees, and starting this Fall they will be offering a degree in marketing with an emphasis on network marketing. They are also developing an online certificate course which will focus on network marketing that will also award college credits.

You can read their press release here:

I wrote an article 13 years ago about why mainstream academia will never offer courses in network marketing. This was a response to the urban legend, then popular and still believed by many, that either Harvard or Yale had actually taught network marketing as part of their curriculum. My case was based on the simple thesis that no college or university would ever want to expose their student body to a career option that didn’t require a college degree. I suggested back then that the only way a college might prove me wrong is if they could find a way to make the inclusion of M.L.M. into their curriculum profitable, such as having the institution itself participate within an M.L.M. opportunity. While it is yet to be seen if Bethany intends to do this, and if so how, they do intend to offer a very extensive online program emphasizing network marketing which will involve 6 class hours, and will probably cost somewhat less than their normal $400 per credit hour (costs have yet to be determined).

Why Go to College when MLM Education is Abundant and Free?

This is one of several questions that have arisen since word first got out about Bethany’s ambitious endeavor. They’re all covered in the most recent edition of my “Inside Network Marketing” show where I interviewed David Frost, the Assistant Professor of Bethany’s Business & Economics Department, and who is spearheading their network marketing projects. You can listen to the 49 minute interview here:

The monofilament among all the questions that have been raised so far (that means, “common thread” — I paid $200 for these Verbal Advantage CDs and I’m damn well going to use these words for something) seems to surround the long held position within our profession that network marketing may not be easy, but it is simple. It’s a form of entrepreneurship that “anyone can do”, that “levels the playing field”, and that “doesn’t require any special education or skills”. So, why pay 100K in tuition fees and spend four years in a classroom? Well, let’s first, and finally, acknowledge that this long held position is complete and utter BS, and I don’t mean Bachelor of Science. If this business is so simple, and so easy, and practically everyone already possesses the knowledge and skills to execute it correctly and effectively —then why do over 95% of them fail at it? I’m not suggesting network marketing is not relatively simpler, easier, and less financially risky than most conventional businesses, and it does offer myriad other benefits and advantages, as described in my Case Closed! CD. But the simple fact is, the vast majority of MLMers fail to even earn a profit because the vast majority simply don’t do what they are suppose to do, well enough, long enough.

Especially long enough. Several major M.L.M. companies today provide an annual commission breakdown which includes the average earnings at each rank in their plan and the average number of months it takes for reps to reach those ranks. The rank where a significant net profit can be virtually assured is achieved, on average, in 6-12 months, and a minimal living income of at least $2,500 per month takes, again on average, 18 to 24 months. What most would identify as “wealth” takes 3-5 years. Yet, the large majority of distributors quit, usually to start over with another opportunity, within their first 6 months, and most of those drop out within their first 6 weeksOf course the huge majority of M.L.M. distributors don’t make any money at this business — because the huge majority quit too soon.

The primary reason for this is that there is little invested, thus little at stake if they fail. One age-old M.L.M. tenet that is quite true is, “Easy in, easy out”. Those who invest $1.5 million into a Taco Bell franchise (in fact, that is the going rate) usually don’t quit after a few weeks because it was harder than they thought it would be. Most franchise owners spend considerable time investigating what’s involved with running a business of their chosen type, and apply the level of commitment and tenacity that a $1.5 million potential loss affords them. Most network marketers are more than willing to eat the cost of their $25 distributor kit, and literally eat their initial inventory, after the first couple of nos. However, I’d bet that someone who devotes four years of their life and a $100,000 student loan to their business might not give up on it so easily. They’d also be acutely aware of what they are getting themselves into and what is necessary to achieve success. Bethany potentially offers a solution to the single greatest cause for failure in this profession — lack of commitment. They’d also be much better equipped to evaluate and select the opportunities they wish to pursue, thus offering a solution to arguably the second greatest cause for failure — lack of loyalty. Also, considering this is a marketing degree with an emphasis on network marketing graduates would still be eligible for conventional marketing positions, and would be prime candidates for M.L.M. corporate positions.

Also, consider the credibility boost to the industry if Bethany College should succeed with this program and any of the other 2,350 private colleges and universities in the U.S. (4-year and 2-year) should decide to duplicate it.

A Myth That Became a Fact

Until now no U.S. college or university has ever included M.L.M. as part of their accredited curriculum. No, not Harvard or Yale, and no, not even University of Illinois at Chicago. The latter offered, years ago, a for-profit weekend “certification” course (meaning someone had access to a laser printer) as part of their Continuing Education program. That’s where campuses have empty classrooms on nights and weekends and rent them out to anyone who wants to teach something. I once taught a class in network marketing for four consecutive Tuesday nights at UNLV. The catalogue that listed my class also listed classes in UFOlogy and Tarot Card reading. That doesn’t mean UNLV offers these classes. And no, not Utah Valley State College, although they did once offer courses tailored more to those seeking employmentwith an M.L.M. company. UTEP appeared to be close back around the turn of the century, but nothing came of it. To my knowledge, Bethany College will be the very first institution to finally make the “M.L.M. is taught in college” myth no longer a myth.

And they’ll prove me wrong.

Len Clements
Founder & CEO
MarketWave, Inc.

Podcast #18: Bethany College Offers MLM Degree

Host: Len Clements, MarketWave, Inc. Founder & CEO